Earlier in the season on "Criminal Minds," the team found there’s a person calling themselves the Replicator who has been watching their investigations and recreating crime scenes.
The episode begins when JJ receives a floral arrangement with a message: Zugswang. The team realizes they’re being stalked and conclude it’s the Replicator. Strauss meets with the Director and agrees to keep him up to date on the case’s progress. Hotch orders a security detail at each team member’s home. The game has now changed, he says. The pursuer has now become the object of pursuit.
Strauss demands the case be closed quickly as Garcia finds a new report in Philadelphia. The Replicator has struck again. The Replicator’s trying to get the team’s attention.
Morgan notices the fourth murder doesn’t match the previous MO. Why did it change? Garcia interrupts telling the team a second body has been found.
Morgan, Reid, and JJ go to the crime scene. A disgruntled detective leads them to the body. JJ’s not sure it is the Replicator since the MO is slightly off.
Hotch, Rossi, and Blake visit the first victim. Evidence suggests she was tied down and sedated prior to death. The victim was abducted in broad daylight from a public place.
Across town a young woman loads groceries into her car when a man approaches with a petition. When she finally agrees to sign he pulls a gun, calling her by her name and threatening her son.
Rossi and Hotch meet with local PD. The case is now Federal jurisdiction due to probable cause. The detective on the case’s obviously rankled and his CO threatens to pull him from the case. A call comes in. A third body’s been found.
The victim’s the woman from the grocery store. They approach the body which is covered with a picture of Hotch.
Review of the picture provides no clue other than the team’s being targeted. The Replicator’s motivated by revenge.
A trip to the morgue shows this victim, too, was exsanguinated. Rossi holds up an ID badge: two of the three victims in Philly have both been nurses. Hotch calls Garcia who finds the third victim was formerly a nurse. Hotch tells her to find out everything she can about homicides involving nurses.
Hotch and Blake enter the local PD for a video-conference with Strauss. Hotch tells Blake Strauss has been under a lot of pressure to get results. Blake reminds him she’s seen it before, when Strauss tried to ruin Blake’s career.
Strauss says profilers being profiled makes them look bad and undermines their efficacy. The Director and Attorney General want the BAU removed from the case. As they’re victims now, their ability to investigate may become compromised. Rossi defends the BAU saying they know the case. Strauss reconsiders and says she’ll tell the Director not to remove the BAU from the case.
Garcia calls. Fifteen years ago the BAU had a case in Pittsburgh where four nurses were stabbed. The killer, Jack Kemper was put to death five months ago; the same time the killing started. Reid surmises that might have been the trigger.
The team exhausts all of the leads associated with Kemper. JJ suggests it could be another suspect in the case. Rossi suggests Donnie Bidwell: he was the primary suspect in the earlier case but was cleared with DNA evidence.
Garcia researches and finds that being accused with killing the nurses ruined Bidwell’s life. Since the initial arrest his business went bankrupt, he had a nervous breakdown, and filed for divorce. She gives the team his information. The team splits up: half go to Bidwell’s work address and the other go to his home.
Bidwell hides in a bedroom closet when the team arrives. The PD detective mistakenly clears the room. Bidwell shoots at the detective, but Morgan pushes him out of the line of fire. Gunfire’s exchanged. Bidwell escapes out of the backdoor. Morgan and JJ follow behind cornering Bidwell in an alley. He drops his weapon and Morgan handcuffs him.
The detective catches up with Morgan and tells him his former partner was shot while investigating a Federal case and he’s had an issue with the Feds since then. He tells Morgan to call if he needs anything.
In the station the gang watches Bidwell who has asked for nothing but anti-seizure meds. His hands shake with tremors as Rossi enters the room. Bidwell ignores him until Rossi says the bureau made an erroneous accusation and then he becomes enraged.
Hotch and Reid investigate Bidwell’s house. Garcia calls and tells Hotch that a review of Bidwell’s computer finds he’s still calling and emailing his ex-wife, who just happens to be a nurse. The divorce was finalized five months ago. Hotch realizes the trigger may not have been Kemper.
Rossi has no luck with Bidwell. JJ and Blake go in to take a try at him. JJ’s successful and starts a conversation with him about his kids.
Reid finds a box under Bidwell’s couch. A few pictures are inside of both the profilers and the victims. He pulls out an envelope containing the victim’s eyelids and hands it to Hotch who then informs the rest of the team.
JJ and Blake are still in with Bidwell when the text arrives. He complains that it’s been fifteen years and the bureau never acknowledged their mistake and admits that he killed the nurses. JJ asks if he does the copycat killings to make the bureau look bad. He’s confused. They tell him they found the photos and eyelids. Looking bewildered he asks for his lawyer. Outside the team discusses the fact that he doesn’t seem to know about the copycat killings.
Reid and Hotch agree that, although the physical evidence is plentiful and he confessed to killing the nurses, something’s off. The house is too disorganized to fit the profile.
Back at the precinct, Bidwell makes his call. He tells the caller he’s been arrested. He then begins to sputter in anger at whatever the caller is saying.
The team’s talking over coffee when the detective comes in and tells them there’s a problem with Bidwell. They enter the room to find he’s overdosed on his anti-seizure meds.
Strauss wants an update. Bidwell died en route to the hospital but didn’t profile as suicidal. They realize the phone call was the trigger. They traced the call to a prepaid cell that went dead after Bidwell’s call and realize he was set up. The team realizes the Replicator has successfully manipulated them.
A van speeds out of Pittsburgh with another woman tied down inside.
Garcia calls, she says there has been one call a day every day at the same time inbound to Bidwell’s cell. She traced it to a prepaid cell paid for by the same credit card used to buy JJ’s flowers. She triangulates the phone to Pittsburgh and the team boards the BAU jet to investigate. The team enters a building and finds the phone lying next to the latest victim. The walls are covered with pictures of the team who are horrified by the sheer number of pictures and how close the killer has been to each of them.
What did you think of this episode? The Replicator is the first serial villain in the series since the Reaper. Which villain do you find more terrifying? Who do you think the Replicator will target next on the team?
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